As city administrators exchange ideas with Broadway Plaza owners for a long-term development agreement, the City Council Tuesday night gave some direction to its negotiators.
Macerich, owner of most of the 25-acre plaza, has listed more than a dozen potential downtown improvements it could finance as part of plans for "several million dollars" in payment to the city for the rights in a development agreement, including:
- traffic claiming flashing crosswalks.
- crosswalk treatments and improvements across from Broadway Plaza connection areas.
- monuments and fountains.
- public art program.
(For the full list, see attachment 9 of the city's staff report on the Broadway Plaza Long-Range Master Plan.)
Council member Kristina Lawson said the funding from the developers could go to a larger project, such as "seed funding" for a downtown plaza in the "traditional downtown" — across Mount Diablo Boulevard from Broadway Plaza. This would contribute to the goal of connecting Broadway Plaza to the traditional downtown, as emphasized by council members and members of the Planning Commission and Design Review Commission that reviewed Macerich proposals.
Macerich is seeking a 10-year development agreement with the city coupled with the option of two five-year extensions if the developer shows it is meeting goals to be defined in the agreement. For instance, an attorney representing Macerich, Cecily Barclay, told the council suggested that standard could be to grant the extension after 10 years if the developer showed the project was 80 percent underway.
Mayor Bob Simmons said he felt a 10 plus 5 plus 5 was too much. He said he favored a 15-year maximum. "Fifteen is more than ample for this," he said.
Macerich presented an alternative with all retail development and a second alternative with mixed retail and residential at Broadway Plaza. Either alternative would employ a new multi-level parking garage, much of it underground, in the middle of the plaza property, requiring the tearing up of the paved Broadway Plaza street that runs through the property now.
Simmons said the Macerich proposal did not spell out details about the residential alternative: "I have to be convinced that this has some merit and right now I don't see the merit. It makes it more complex. I don't know that it adds value."
Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan asked the developers to push ideas harder to effect the connectivity of the two downtowns, and synergistic ideas for traffic and parking for the next generation with less reliance on the automobile.
The current plan asks the city to formally vacate most of the Broadway Plaza street, amounting to 53,000 square feet.
Council member Gary Skrel said the street abandonment should extend all the way north to Mount Diablo Boulevard, adding another 17,000 square feet that should be used as green space.